Foreign lottery scams target the elderly and they are costing Americans more than $120 million a year.
"They send a letter, 'You won a million dollars. Please send back the letter and $50," said fraud victim, Elda Dejar.
Dejar send more than $10,000 over a year, but she never received her winnings. The 87-year-old would have continued sending money, but the bank stepped in and called her son.
Carlos Dejar learned the lottery scam had left his mother with nearly nothing. She thought she was paying the taxes and fees on prizes she won.
"She probably started with two or three that were different, and then those turned into 30, turned into 300, and 30 turned into an unimaginable amount of things. She would be in the house opening mail for hours and hours," Carlos said.
Sometimes she was sent small trinkets, which led her to believe the promised winnings were real.
"It's just garbage. It's something you would get in a swap meet for $20," Carlos said.
When Carlos told his mother it was all a scam, she didn't believe him.
"She threw a fit. She was absolutely not talking to me for days. She was very nervous and very angry with me," he said.
Postal inspectors say any legitimate lottery will take out taxes and fees after winners receive their prize. They won't ask for it up front and there are no advanced fees.
Carlos advised that others keep tabs on their elderly parents' finances.
"Understand where the money is going. Know their finances, get tight with them," he said.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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